Jesus Christ was the Son of God who came to Israel in human flesh. The Messiah of Israel who is Lord of all entered time and history, and it is important to see that He did so in order to embody the people of Israel. Christ Jesus was Himself the new Israel re-enacting the history of redemption in His life and death and resurrection.
Where the nation of Israel failed and veered away from the Lord toward idolatry and immorality and lawlessness, Christ remained utterly loyal and worshipped the Lord His God alone. Where Israel passed through the waters of the Red Sea in the Exodus and then failed as God’s covenant people, Christ Jesus passed through the waters of baptism and obeyed God in covenant with Him. God promised Israel that the one who sins will die, and yet God also promised Israel a day of resurrection and vindication. Christ took on the sin of His people and died in their stead, and then rose from the dead as the vindicated true Israel of God. Christ Jesus was the true Israel in the flesh, living out the true life that pleases God and fulfills His law and fleshes out His covenant mercy. When He died, His body, the chosen of God, died with Him, and when He rose, His body, the Israel of God, rose with Him to receive His invincible life.
So, when we look at the life of Jesus, what do we see? What should we expect to see? We see Jesus presented as God’s true covenant partner, living the true life of covenant faithfulness, the true life of redemptive riches that God planned for man. Here in Christ is the new Israel faithfully living out the redemption that God planned.
So when we first look into the gospel narratives, we find Jesus as the new Adam, and He, like the first Adam, is hungry. Jesus is fasting in the wilderness caused by sin, just as the first Adam was in the garden, being tempted by the serpent. But unlike the first Adam, the second Adam resisted the allure of the Devil’s temptation, and He left the wilderness to enter the garden of God, where angels fed Him. And then consider His public life. The life of Jesus was a life of rich feasting. So often in the gospels you find Jesus in people’s homes, often those of the most unsavory people, and what is he doing there? He is eating and drinking.
In Deuteronomy 21:20-21 we read about how to deal with a disobedient and incorrigible son
And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear.
This is what is behind Jesus’ statement in Luke 7:33-35
For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by all her children.
The people saw Jesus’ eating and drinking and accused Him of being the disobedient son that the law spoke of (“a glutton and a winebibber”), and they tried to stone Him repeatedly. But Jesus, with His eating and drinking, was showing that He was indeed the obedient Son and His obedience was precisely in the fact that He ate and drank lawfully, with Jews and Gentiles and tax collectors and harlots alike, embodying the true nature of His kingdom — a multinational people bound together in the joy and obedience and unity of the gospel.
After the conversion of Matthew the tax collector, Jesus went into his home and ate. When the traitor Zaccheus repented of His greed and corruption, Jesus went into His house and had a feast with Him. Jesus reclined at the table with both Pharisees and outcasts alike. His life fulfilled the pattern we see in Israel’s weekly and annual feasts that were the expression of thankfulness and fellowship with God.
He was living out rich, covenant life for us so that He can share it with us.
When we feast, whether it be as families or as a covenant family with the church, when we enjoy God’s good gifts, both on the Lord’s Day and throughout the week, we are participating in God’s abundant covenant life. It is a life of rich food and fine fare. It is a life of good wine and good friends. These gifts cannot ultimately be separated from the gift of Christ Himself. His life given to us is the good life of feasting before God. We read in Psalm 128:2,“When you eat the labor of your hands, You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.”
That is true because we are in Christ. We feast on Him by faith, in the Spirit, so our feasts partake of His life which is a gift from His hand, and all of life is then worship and covenant riches, both for us and for our children.